Chicago Maritime Festival 2012

Modern replica of the 1813 Brig Niagara

The Chicago Maritime Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with special events related to the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 (two hundred years already? I am so old).

The Chicago Maritime Festival is an international gathering of performers and presenters celebrating Chicago’s maritime community. The event is organized by Common Times in partnership with the Chicago Maritime Museum, and the Chicago History Museum.

In 2003, the first Chicago Maritime Festival produced the most diverse maritime program ever staged in Chicago. The festival drew over 1,000 people to its seminars, concerts, school programs, and shanty sing. Since then, the festival and festival outreach programs have been attended by almost 35,000! Festival goers enjoy over 40 seminars and workshops plus ship models, displays, and demonstrations presented by the individuals and organizations that make up the maritime community in Chicago as well as some presenters from across the country and across the sea.

This year’s performers include the Quebeçois trio, Serre l’Écoute, with their wonderful French and French-Canadian maritime-themed music, Tom Lewis‘ powerful sea shanties that have earned him the nickname, “Springsteen of the Sea Chantey”, the Annapolis-based duo, Calico Jack, and the thrilling harmonies of Bounding Main, among others (all performers for this year’s festival).

Speakers include Professor Theodore Karamanski discussing The Battle for the Great Lakes: How the War of 1812 Fractured the Unity of the Great Lakes Basin, Destroyed One Nation, and Created Two Others, Glenn Braun’s presentation (of special interest to ship modelers), Ships and Ship Carving of the 1812 Era: A View in Miniature From Both Sides, and many more (see full list of all presenters).

For information on tickets, volunteering, and more, please visit the Chicago Maritime Festival website!

The Chicago Maritime Festival is an international gathering to celebrate Chicago’s maritime community. It is an event organized by Common Times in partnership with the Chicago History Museum, and the Chicago Maritime Museum.

Long-hidden Bag found in USS Cobia

USS Cobia at Manitowoc Maritime Museum

USS Cobia docked at the Manitowoc Maritime Museum sometime in the 1980s

Paul Rutherford, maintenance supervisor at the Manitowoc Maritime Museum, was doing a little tidying in the upper bunks over the forward torpedo room on the USS Cobia. To his surprise, he discovered long-hidden leather toiletry bag crammed into a tiny gap.

USS Cobia Forward Torpedo Room

Cramped confines of the USS Cobia Forward Torpedo Room (photo by Ward Johnson)


Rutherford pulled out the bag to discover a sailor’s secret treasure stash from over 66 years ago…a small empty red corduroy pouch, a rubber stamp with a seaman’s name, a “100 Cocktails” booklet, and two poems, “Give Us a Drink” and “Navy Wife.”

Submarine Curator, Karen Duvalle, scoured crew records and identified the objects as belonging toSeaman First Class Hersey J. Williams, who served aboard the USS Cobia on her fourth war patrol, which departed from Perth, Australia, on Dec. 12, 1945.

Full story from the Chicago Tribune.

Final Fleet of Sir Francis Drake Possibly Discovered Off Panama

Sir Francis Drake Fights the Spanish Armada
More than 400 years after his burial in full armor and a lead casket, the remains of Sir Francis Drake may have been discovered, along with two ships from his last fleet, the Elizabeth and the Delight.

Drake was 55 when he died on a miserable January night in 1596 of dysentery after a failed attack on San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was an ignominious end to a grand life, full of circumnavigations, a daring battle against the Spanish Armada, and acts of incredible daring against his life-long enemy, Spain. On the darker side, Drake was also complicit in the beginnings of the North American slave trade and a massacre in Ireland.

The chief archaeologist on the project, James Sinclair (also known for his work on the Titanic project) has found remains of craft from the right era, a total of over 80 feet of well-preserved hull sections. Sorting through the results and properly excavating the site will take years, but the initial results are very promising that this is, indeed, the final resting spot for Sir Francis Drake’s final fleet.

Read more about the discovery, lead by former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, Pat Croce, in the Telegraph. And here’s a brief video about this even from Discovery News (via YouTube):